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Menstrual period

Menstrual period (menstruation) is regular monthly menstrual bleeding – it is a result of monthly uterine lining shedding (uterine lining tissue mixed with blood). Menstrual flow can be light, moderate or heavy (depending on hormonal fluctuations). Normal menstrual cycles occur every 24-35 days and last 3-5 days.

Menstrual cycle is very specific hormonal driven cycle. Beginning of menstrual cycle starts with menstrual period. First day of menstrual bleeding called “Day 1”. Usually menstrual flow lasts about 3-5 days but sometime it can be followed by 1-2 days brown spotting (final uterine cleansing).

The average age for girls to get their first period is 11-13. In some south regions girls could have their menstrual periods at 8-9 and in some north regions first period could appear at 14-15. Healthy women have regular menstruations during whole reproductive period of life (from 16 to 45). After 45 women usually experience “hormonal collapse” (decreased levels of female hormones) and enter into perimenopause and following menopause (absence of menstrual periods).

Menstrual period and menstrual cycle

Menstrual cycle is a part of female reproductive system – all reproductive organs are involved in menstrual cycle (regulated by hormones). According to scientists, menstrual cycle is determined genetically and hormonally. Menstrual cycle and menstrual period starts when girls become sexually mature at the time of puberty.

Menstrual period

Menstrual cycle is very specific monthly cycle in which females release eggs ready for fertilization. At the same time, women body develops very specific environment in the uterus for implantation of fertilized egg and for following embryo (baby) development. Actually menstrual cycles prepare female body to become pregnant every month. This is why all modern healthy females need family planning and safe contraception.

Monthly menstrual periods usually happen if woman did not have fertilization (absence of pregnancy). Menstrual bleeding composed of uterine lining shedding and fresh blood caused by the breaking of very fine blood vessels within the endometrium. The amount of blood lost during normal menstrual period is usually less than 80-100ml.

Menstrual cycle is very specific and individual – it can occur every 24-35 days. Menstrual cycle duration is not so important but the regularity is very important. In puberty (at the beginning of hormonal transformations) menstrual cycle can be irregular during 1-2 years. At 17-18 usually cycles are already fully developed and menstrual periods should be very regular. It is important to highlight that normal cycle is what is normal for your body. The length of your cycle could be affected by illnesses, stress, travel, contraception, fertility medication and some other factors.

Menstrual period hygiene

Menstrual period hygiene is very important. You can learn more about “Menstrual hygiene products” on next page. Each woman is choosing menstrual hygiene products according to personal lifestyle and to personal needs. Important point is that women should change pads and tampons every 4-5 hours before it becomes soaked with blood. Each woman decides how often to change menstrual hygiene item depending on menstrual flow, day of cycle, daily activities, etc. Choose what works best.

Using any kind of tampon puts you at greater risk for toxic shock syndrome (TSS) than using pads. Toxic shock syndrome is rare dangerous complex of symptoms triggered by bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. Tampons themselves do not cause TSS but if tampon was left in vagina for long period of time (more than 7-8 hours), it triggers intensive bacteria growth and multiplication. Staphylococcus aureus produces toxins which can damage immune system (body defense system) and cause toxic shock syndrome. Main TSS symptoms include the following:

  • Sudden high fever,
  • Low blood pressure,
  • Sunburn-like rash (widespread red flat rash),
  • Shedding of skin (especially on palms and soles),
  • Diarrhea and vomiting,
  • Dizziness, fainting or lightheadedness,
  • Severe muscle pain,
  • Disorientation or confusion,
  • Red eyes, mouth and vagina (due to increased blood flow to these areas).

Mentioned symptoms could seem similar to the ordinary flu. If they occur while you are menstruating and wearing a tampon – it could be TSS signals! It is strongly recommended to visit your doctor!

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